History of Archbishop Weber High School
Chicago, Illinois

Twenty years from its foundation, St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish began at its present site of Noble and Bradley (Evergreen Streets). Although rural before this time, the Polish immigrants, who flooded the city, found it a satisfactory locale for their growing populace. The prophetic vision of Rev. Vincent Barzynski, CR in his indefatigable labors sought higher learning for the Polish youth.

In September, 1890, St. Stanislaus College (the original name of Archbishop Weber High School) came into existence when Fr. Barzynski appointed Father Joseph Halter, CR as the first rector, and Fr. John Piechowski, C. R. as his assistant. Twelve students enrolled in the first year. Two classrooms in the old frame church building made up the school plant. The course of studies consisted of 6 full days (including Saturday) from September through July. The tuition was twenty-five cents a month - a seeming heavy burden for most parents, who would more readily see their sons working to help support the larger families in need.

On July 2, 1897 the first commencement exercises were held. Before the turn of the century the school population increased to 84. In 1899 the parish could no longer support its orphanage on Division Street. With ecclesiastical approval the orphans were transferred to the Franciscan Sisters of BI. Kunegunda (now known as the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago), whose saintly foundress, Mother Teresa Dudzik, with Father Barzynski, CR established a nursing care center for the elderly in the Avondale area.

In September 1899 St. Stanislaus Kostka College moved into the orphanage building, and so the expanded facilities included more classrooms, a music hall, a library and a gymnasium. The building allowed for the establishment of a dormitory for out of town students. Although the boarding students' fee was $185 a year, the day students' tuition was $3.00 a month.

Within two years the staff increased to eleven members while the school population exceeded 100 young men. With the new century and an increasing number of students, modest physics and chemistry laboratories were opened.  During the tenure of the rector, Fr. John Kosinski, CR, 1905-08, the school received accreditation from the State of Illinois. The College also received a charter to grant degrees (after a six year course) from New York State and the Gregorian University of Rome, Italy. Fr. Kosinski planned to establish a first Polish-American University, an educational center which included high school and college programs.

The Congregation of the Resurrection, through generous benefactors, covered the deficit expenses of the growing institution. In 1906-07 there were 165 students. The number increased to 201 students in the next two years.

In 1911, Fr. Ladislaus Zapala, CR, the rector, organized a business college with day and evening classes, a two-year commercial course, which included bookkeeping, stenography, typing, commercial geography, arithmetic and English. The library numbered 5,000 volumes. Natural science, biology and zoology were added to the number of courses offered at the school. With the outbreak of World War I, the property for the Polish-American University project was abandoned, the property was sold and the money was offered to the Polish National Council to help create an independent Poland.

In 1918, the school was accredited by the University of Illinois and the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges. During the academic year of 1924-25, there were three basketball teams, seven softball teams and a baseball team. The following year the enrollment increased to more than
300 students. On Saturdays the facilities were likewise utilized for the teacher training of more than 150 religious sisters. Football was revived after a ten-year hiatus. Fifty students comprised the orchestra.

Gordon Hall, located on Haddon Avenue, was acquired in 1928. It was remodeled to hold a large gymnasium, a science room with elevated seats, chemistry and physics laboratories, and a cafeteria.  This technical wing of Archbishop Weber High School would in 1952, become an important part of the newly established Gordon Technical High School.
Also On March 3, 1930, Father Thaddeus Ligman, CR, the principal, announced the name of the school was being changed to Archbishop Weber High School in honor of Archbishop Joseph Weber, CR.  Seventy-eight students received their diplomas as the first Archbishop Weber High School class.

Due to the Great Depression the number of students decreased. The faculty of eight priests and ten lay teachers in ten years was decreased to nine priests and one layman. In the 1940's the Archbishop Weber Red Horde athletic teams took a prominent role in the Chicago Catholic League. The Junior Varsity basketball team captured the city title for the 1st time in 1943. Both the Junior and Senior Varsity basketball squads amassed trophies and titles throughout the decade. The football team, likewise, won the Catholic League Championship.

In September of 1950 the new (Palmer Avenue) building and gymnasium were opened for the Archbishop Weber students. In athletics a rowing crew was organized. In 1952 the junior and senior crew teams competed in the CYO Regatta and the Central States Championship Regatta. Archbishop Weber with its teams, if not champions were contenders in football, basketball, baseball, bowling, swimming, and water polo throughout the next two decades. 
The Archbishop Weber marching band and color guard similarly won in competitive performances.  A memorable occasion for the group was the invitation to represent the State of Illinois for the Inaugural Parade for President John F. Kennedy in Washington, D.C.

In 1962-63 the Heralders, Archbishop Weber's drama club, captivated audiences with Bye-Bye Birdie, The Lark, and The Desperate Hour. The next year over 3,000 people attended the production of South Pacific. For several more years the Heralders presented highly acclaimed productions.

During the principalship of Fr. Edwin Karlowicz CR (1954-60) and Fr. George Jendrach, CR (1960-66) and Fr. Chester Mitoraj, CR (1966-72) Archbishop Weber's enrollment steadily grew and peaked with a graduating class (1969) of 325 seniors.

Quality education with an improved curriculum was the highlight of Fr. Eugene Zalewski, CR tenure as principal (1972-78). Fr. Dennis Sanders, CR (1978-81) was responsible for the institution of overnight retreats for the seniors and a revised religion program. Fr. Gene Szarek, CR. (1981-90) brought the school to its centennial year. Within this celebration year Archbishop Weber High School was recognized as an Exemplary School by the United States Department of Education.

As Archbishop Weber High School entered the second century of its existence, it was incorporated in State of Illinois. The Rev. Francis Rog, CR became the 1st president/principal. Together with Fr. Gary Young, CR, an Archbishop Weber Alumni Senate was formed. The Senate's purpose was to offer a point of contact for alumni with the school, whereby the Resurrection Fathers and Brothers and lay faculty could continue to be a support in the alumni endeavors. In like manner, the alumni would support the endeavors of Archbishop Weber High School.

Finally, in June, 1999 under the principalship of Rev. Steven Bartczyszyn, CR, and after many years of excellence in education, Archbishop Weber High School closed due to low student enrollment. However, the sprit of its values lives on in an active Weber Alumni Association.

 





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Weber High Alumni, Post Office Box 31107, Chicago, IL 60631-0107
Phone: 630-875-0079  -  E-mail: weberalumni@yahoo.com